Tag: language

Positive Cheering

There are a lot of things that make me proud of Atlanta Youth Lacrosse. By far, the part of AYL I am most proud of, is our relentlessly positive fans. Since the program’s inception, the AYL staff strived to create an atmosphere of true sportsmanship on the sidelines, and we have succeeded in doing so because of like-minded and supportive parents.

Angry Fans
Angry Fans

There are a lot of youth lacrosse programs in the United States that encourage positive sideline behavior, but there are also a lot that turn a blind eye to anything said from the stands. I find that disheartening because, at the end of the day, all of those negative comments are heard and internalized by the young players. Now, there are some people who say that mean words from the sideline toughen up kids. When a fan tells me that I immediately conclude that anything else that comes out of their mouth is not worth the energy to listen.

Imagine how productive would you be at your job if every five minutes, someone, who has no idea how to do your job, called you a stupid insert curse word here? That is what all negative comments at youth sporting events boils down to. There are one or two individuals who never played the game yelling at their kid or someone else’s kid, when they have no idea what they are talking about.

Case in point, I was officiating an in-state tournament this past summer. The horn blew for halftime and a dad vaulted over the barricade by the fans sideline, ran onto the field, and started berating his son, the goalie. He gave a verbal dress-down about how terribly he was playing, and how he was letting his whole team down. Before it escalated any further, I walked over and informed him that he was not allowed on the field. I spent the remainder of the day angry because this individual, who I am certain never played goalie in his life, believed his knowledge of the game was so vast that he needed to impart it in the most heinous and memorable way possible. As I said in the Language post, all he did was reveal his own ignorance.

So the big question here is: how do youth programs promote responsible and positive sideline behavior. There are two methods out there, one of which I prefer to use. The first is the US Lacrosse Sportsmanship Card. Which states, in very polite language, that the offender is acting against the honorable traditions of the game. Many organizations use this card by handing them out during games to fans who forget that the game is about encouraging sportsmanship, respect, and honor. While I like the concept, I believe it lacks teeth. Which is why we use a different method to enforce good behavior at Atlanta Youth Lacrosse.

Whenever I am officiating a game at our league and one or more fans becomes belligerent or very negative, I stop the game and walk to the sideline. I calmly look up and down the row of parents and fans, then state the following:

“There are some individuals who are not contributing to a good, sporting atmosphere. I do not know who you are, but you, and the people around you, know who you are. The next time I hear a comment that negatively impacts this game I will stop the game, come back to this spot, and turn on my stopwatch. I will burn two minutes off the game time, and every player will sit at the bench because of your actions. If I come back again it goes up to three minutes, then four, and so on. Thank you for your support in honoring the tradition of this game.”

I'm gonna make you an offer you can't refuse
I'm gonna make you an offer you can't refuse

I have used this threat three times in five years, and I have not had to follow through on it yet. When you threaten to eliminate the playing time of everyone, each fan on the sideline looks at the offender(s) and quietly tells them to zip their lips. In those twenty-seconds, I enlisted everyone on the sideline to help promote a good atmosphere for the players.

Whenever our league participates in, or hosts tournaments I always get the same compliments from other coaches and parents. They consistently say our fans are the nicest fans they ever encountered. One coach remarked that AYL is “intense about being laid-back.” I like that phrase so much because it drives right at the heart of our mission at AYL. At the end of the day, it is all about the kids. We want every one of our players to enjoy their time on the field, free of any mean-spirited comments by a fan that gets a little too worked up for a youth game.

So to all of our parents and fans on the sidelines. Bravo. Please keep up the great cheering and help new fans who are unfamiliar with our sideline style.

*Note – There will be future posts on the application of Positive Cheering.

Featured Image Credit – www.beaconcareermgmt.com



Today, in a time span of less than six hours, I heard more curse words strung together than I ever heard before. I listened to young children say words they did not understand, and senior players belting out words that they certainly understood. While writing this I am shaking my head in frustration. There is a time and a place for bad language, but until you reach twenty-one there is not a single situation so bad that requires vehement cursing.

George Washington - "Stop Cursing!"
George Washington – “Stop Cursing!”

George Washington once stated: “the foolish and wicked practice of profane cursing and swearing is a vice so mean and low that every person of sense and character detests and despises it.” Speaking to young players for a moment; when you curse you cast your immaturity into sharp relief. When you drop an F-bomb you only show your inability to speak intelligently without resorting to base insults. Yet, in these situations I do not blame the child. I blame the parents.

A few years back, when Atlanta Youth Lacrosse was still at Murphy Candler Park. I was playing against two opponents who cursed all game. The officials put them in the penalty box over and over again, but neither player seemed to understand that they should firmly shut their mouths. When the game ended, I packed my gear into my bag and walked over to my dad. I passed my two opponents and their father. He was dropping curse words left and right about how terrible the referees were. Put simply, the apples did not fall very far from the tree.

Now I only blame the parents if the child is under sixteen. If a sixteen-year-old player is cursing at or around me while at AYL. He is going to get a serious talking to. Players, there comes a time when you must step out on your own as a responsible individual. Cursing shows that your are still a child, and not worthy of additional responsibilities.

Looking back on my formative years, I cannot say there was a good reason for me to curse at another person. However, I was impulsive. I lacked the what I now call the “brain-mouth connection.” I cursed because I was frustrated at some perceived slight or the lack of fairness directed my way by a person or situation. I became proficient at stringing together imaginative combinations that left my friends’ mouths on the floor. The problem was, I did not understand the full impact of my words. I said them without a care in the world. Never realizing how foolish they made me appear.

As an adult, and role model for our youth players, I cannot afford to lose control of my mouth. So I replace my curse words with “G” rated words. Which I now give to all of our players, parents, adult fans, and coaches:

  • Fishsticks!
  • Jimmeny Christmas!
  • Darn (or Darnit)!
  • Crud!
  • Shucks!
  • Awwwwwww!
  • Shoot!
  • Weak!

Feel free to add to this list, but it should provide everyone with a basic filter for curse words.

We Don't Encourage This ^
We Don't Encourage This ^

Finally, when players, coaches, and fans curse during a lacrosse game you disgrace yourselves. Worse, you disgrace the game. There is a reason why the rulebook requires a minimum 1-minute Unsportsmanlike Conduct Penalty for cursing starting at “damn.” At Atlanta Youth Lacrosse we do not tolerate sullying the game that we love and respect. I do not care if cursing is a family thing like the two opponents I once played against. Or if you just learned a new and shocking curse word. You do not curse on the lacrosse field. Treat it like a church and keep your mouth to yourself. If that concept does not click for you then remember what my mom used to tell me: “Gordon, if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all.”

Featured Image Credit – www.questions.thoughts.com


ABC’s of Lacrosse

To a lot of new players and parents speaking in Lacrosse-ease is as simple as speaking Latin. To all of these individuals I give you the Rosetta Stone of Lacrosse Terms:

Note – many of these terms were taken from other websites. To make citing easier each term that I did not create myself is color coded to the original website. Green = www.e-lacrosse.com. Blue = www.walax.com. Red = Gordons’s Terms! The E-Lacrosse Laxicon is a fantastic resource for nearly every term imaginable. I list the most pertinent and fun below.

In Alphabetical Order a list of common lacrosse terms:

  • Air Gait \ n. \ a move invented by lacrosse legend Gary Gait while in college at Syracuse University in the 1980’s. Gait would literally dive from the rear of the crease upward and out over the goal side while slapping the ball into the goal one-handed. The move was made illegal very soon after. It was said that goalie safety was the reason. Many still think it was because only Gait could do it.
  • Ankle breaker \ adj. \ Slang for an extremely quick turn or split dodge.
  • All Right (All Left) \ adj. \ term for a player who has a dramatically dominant hand.
  • Alley \n.\ area created between the side of the restraining box and the sideline.
  • Backbreaker \ n. \ a trick shot where the stick is held by both hands above the head and the ball is shot underhand and behind the back AND between the legs.
  • Back Door \ n. \ an offensive player without the ball sneaks in, close to the goal behind the defense, where the ball carrier zips a pass to him or her for an easy score. 2: \ v. \ sneak behind the defense to receive a feed and get an easy scoring opportunity.
  • Bag \ n. \ slang for a pocket, usually a very deep one.
  • Ball Dog \ n. \ a dog that chases balls for you when you miss the goal.
  • Baller \ n. \ slang for an extremely good lacrosse player
  • Bait (Bait the Shooter) \ n. \ the goal keeper intentionally tries to influence the shooter’s shot selection by “underprotecting” one side of the goal and showing an open net. This allows the goal keeper to anticipate the ball flight and move early to make the “easy” save.
  • Bermuda triangle \ n. \ a team mate that never gives up the ball. See Black Hole.
  • Black Hole \ n. \ slang for a teammate who never gives the ball up once he has it. A ball hog.
  • Bomb \ n. \ the goalie heaves the ball randomly into the offensive end from the crease area of the defensive end. Also see Gilman Clear
  • Brave Heart \ Phrase \ A fun alternative to overtime played in some lacrosse summer and charity tournaments where two players from each team take the field, a goalkeeper and a middie. The two middies face off and go one on one full field until one scores.
  • Bucket \ n. \ a really deep pocket or good goalie pocket. Also slang for a helmet.
  • Buddy Pass \ n. \ a pass that is lobbed high and/or slowly through the air such that the recipient is blind sided and rocked by defenders as he receives it.
  • Cage \ n. \ slang for the goal
  • Canadian egg roll \ n. \ slang for a shot where the ball is caught and in one downward motion shoots behind the shooter. The ball is released near the knees and is usually performed when on the crease with the shooter’s back to the goalie.
  • Cannon \ n. \ slang for an extremely hard shot, adjective used to describe a player’s shot, ie “he’s got a cannon!”
  • Carry the Pizza \ v. \ when a player runs down the field carrying the ball in their stick way out in front of them in one hand with their arm extended, and holding the bottom of the shaft. This keeps the ball in the head of the stick without needing to cradle or worry about what’s behind you, sorta. Also known as Walking the Dog.
  • Clear \ n. \ a play designed to move the ball from the defensive end to the offensive end after a save or turnover. 2: \ v. \ moving the ball from the defensive end to the offensive end of the field after a turnover or save.
  • Copter \ n. \ slang for a stick checked out of one’s hands so that it flies into the air spinning like a helicopter rotor.
  • Cradle \ v. \ the fluid side to side motion of the stick in order to maintain possession of the ball using its own gravity and inertia while running at full speed.
  • Cup Check \ noun \ 1. tapping on a protective cup to prove that it is there. 2. slang for a shot that hits the defender or goalie in the groin.
  • Change planes \ noun \ – When a shooter has a close in shot, the goalie must respect where the ball carrier starts his shot. If the shooter holds his stick high, the keeper does the same. Therefore it is most effective for the shooter to start high and shoot low, or vice versa.
  • Coast to Coast \ adj \ only occurs when a player nearest their endline takes the ball all the way down the field to the opposing team’s end of the field. Most of the time, this refers to clearing midfielders, or defensemen who carry the ball across midfield and into the offensive half and towards the cage.
  • D.O.F. \ n. \ Accronym for the statistical reporting of how many “Dogs On Field” for a particular lacrosse game. This lacrosse-only statistic was kept by some Baltimore referees for years and was printed unwittingly in the Baltimore newspapers with the rest of the called-in high school and college game stats for years.
  • EMO \ n. \ Accronym for Extra Man Offense. Offensive scheme geared toward taking advantage of man-up situations after penalties on opposing players. 2: the group of players assigned to play in extra man situations.
  • Egg hunt \ n. \ the ball hunt which occurs after practice
  • 5 hole (five hole) \ n. \ a shot that gets to the goal taking a path between the legs of the goalkeeper.
  • Fast Break \ n. \ an extra man situation temporarily cause by a quick steal or great outlet pass from the defensive end. The offense uses the extra man to split the defense so that the ball coming quickly down the field can find an easy path from undefended player to undefended player until a very high percentage shot is taken.
  • Fish \ n. \ slang and derogatory term for a bad defenseman.
  • FOGO \ n. \ acronym for “Face-Off, Get Off”. A player who is only on the field during the face off. Most FOGO’s are the centermen or face-off men during the draw but they can also be wing men, often with a long stick. FOGOs evolved into the game of lacrosse around the turn of the century due to specialization in lacrosse.
  • Fool’s Goal \ n. \ A shot on goal that hits the back of the net. Also called a mommy goal because all the mothers in the crowd cheer thinking that the ball went into the cage.
  • Frying pan \ n. \ a player who’s not a good cradler and just runs down the floor/field like their carrying a frying pan. Origins of the word come from ontario box lacrosse.
  • GLE \ n. \ acronym for Goal line extended, the imaginary line of the goal extended to the sidelines for the purposes of planning plays and describing positioning on the field. One would not likely shoot from behind the GLE.
  • Garbage Goal \ n. \ a goal that is most often easily scored on the crease as a result of the ball becoming loose in the crease area after a shot rebounds off the goalkeeper.
  • Gilman (Gilman the ball) \ v. \ clearing the ball from the defensive end with a long random pass into the offensive end. See Gilman Clear.
  • Goose (Goose it) \ v. \ slang for a flipping the ball from the ground to a teammate.
  • Ground Ball \ n. \ a loose ball picked up with the crosse from the ground.
  • Groundball Machine \ n. \ A player that is especially good at getting ground balls all the time.
  • Gumball \ n. \ a shot that goes directly into the keeper’s stick.
  • Hack \ n. \ a player that tries to hurt people with checks or just checks randomly instead of pointedly.
  • Head \ n. \ the top portion of a lacrosse stick which houses the stringing or mesh and, with some skill, the ball. Most are plastic and screw onto a shaft made of a composite metal but sometimes wood (old style).
  • Head on a Swivel \ n. \ a defensive term for keeping aware of everything around you. Peripheral vision is important for a sliding defender in order to cover all potential cutters or passes and see the whole field.
  • Help \exclam.\ Used to alert a teammate that you are open and able to receive a pass, “Here’s your Help!”
  • In the Dirt \ adj. \The often trampled area approx. 15 foot radius area in front of the goal. Shots from outside the dirt area should be bounce shots, which are more difficult for keepers to stop. Also known as the ‘hole’. A much smaller area than ‘the box.’
  • Ice Pick \ n. \ a check where the defender goes over the head of the offensive player in an attempt to put the butt end into the ball carrier’s pocket and cause them to drop the ball.
  • Lax \ n. \ slang for lacrosse.
  • Longpole \ n. \ 1. slang for a defenseman. 2. slang for the defensive stick.
  • Lumberjack \ n. \ a player that hacks unsuccessfully at opponents with a chopping motion as they run down the field (UK).
  • Mary Gait \ n. \ slang for a flashy player that screws up while showboating
  • “Middie Back” \ n. \ Call made by a coach, attackman or defenseman to remind a middie to stay in the defensive half to avoid an offside penalty call when another long stick defensive player is clearing the ball and the chance of a fast break exists. A midfielder should stay behind the mid-line yelling “I’m Staying!” or “I’m back!” and raising his stick to be seen by the officials and letting the ball carrier know he can cross the mid line safely.
  • Offside (Offsides) \ n. \ rule that requires 3 players for each team are always on the offensive side of the midline and that each has 4 players on their defensive end. 2: the penalty which ensues when less than the required players are on either side of the field. 3: \adj. \ when a penalty is called against a player he is Offside.
  • On the hop \ adv. \ Common lacrosse term used to signify that players are to move into huddles and drills with at least a brisk jog; no walking!
  • Playing catch with the goalie \ v. \ shooting directly into the keeper’s stick.
  • Play On \ n. \ a loose ball penalty that is noticed by the referee but, if called immediately, would stop the advancement of the team that was fouled. A flag is thrown and the referee shouts “Play on” and continuation is allowed. At the next loose ball, turnover or score the whistle is blown and the penalty is assessed. If a goal were scored, it would count and the face off would ensue with the penalty in force.
  • Point (the Point) \ n. \ the forward attack position on a fast break. This player splits his man with the man on the break who has the ball. He shouts “Point” or “I’ve got Point” and moves toward to restraining line and the ball to split men and is usually the first attackman to touch the ball on the break and usually has a great pass open to them on the crease as they receive the ball from the breaking man.
  • Pwned \ adj ] A term from the gaming world that means to absolutely dominate another player or team. A “p” is used instead of an “o” because many computer users would accidently type pwned instead of owned when beating another player.
  • Release (“Release”) \ v. \ term used by a player to let a teammate know to stop taking the “man” in a “man – ball situation”. When two teammates approach a ground ball along with one opponent the one closest to the opponent will yell “Man” and engage the opponent head on to keep them away while the other yells “Ball and gets the ball. The rules say that a player on a team with the ball cannot hit someone so the “Release” call turns off the aggression by the teammate and they both go on offense with the ball.
  • Rip (Take a rip) \ n. \ slang for a shot attempt on the goal.
  • Run Out \ n. \ the sprint for the endline after a missed shot. The closest to the ball when it goes out of bounds on a shot gets the ball.
  • Rusty Gate (Rusty gate check) \ n. \ slang for check in which the defender holds his crosse with his bottom hand and in one motion swings his crosse behind his back and around his defender to dislodge the ball from his opponent’s crosse.
  • 6 x 6 (Six by six) \ n. \ slang for the field lacrosse goal which is 6 feet by 6 feet at the goal face by regulation. Popularized in the many television broadcasting appearances by lacrosse commentator and show host Lief Elsmo from the 1980’s through the turn of the century.
  • Stay (Stay Back) \ v. \ to avoid an offside penalty call when a defensive player is running down field with the ball and the chance of a fast break exists. A midfielder will “stay” or “Stay back” yelling “I’m Staying” and ball carrier knows he can cross the mid line safely
  • Stick Doctor \ n. \ a person known for his stringing abilities. Usually there is at least one Stick Doctor per team.
  • Stick Wizard \ n. \ a player who isn’t necessarily the best athlete but has amazing stick skills and uses them to his advantage while playing.
  • Submarine \ n. \ Underhand shot.
  • Swag \ n. \ any item or gear that a player gets free while playing for a team.
  • Skip \ verb \ – To pass to a non-adjacent teammate. Also known as a star pass. (like drawing a star)
  • Tadpole \ n. \ slang for a youth defender who is dwarfed by his long defense stick (NC).
  • Thumbing (Thumbing the ball) \ v. \ Holding the ball in the stick with the thumb. If caught this will result in a withholding call.
  • Turf Monster \ n. \ the intangible, unseen force that grabs a players foot sending them sprawling to the ground when no other player was anywhere near them, usually when they are driving toward an offensive opportunity, with the ball and the full attention of the crowd. Also known at The Sniper.
  • Walk the Dog \ v. \ when a player runs down the field carrying the ball in their stick way out in front of them in one hand with their arm extended, and holding the bottom of the shaft. This keeps the ball in the head of the stick without needing to cradle or worry about what’s behind you, sorta. Also known as Carrying the Pizza.
  • Wall Ball \ n. \ a very popular practice method involving throwing against a wall to one’s self with both hands. Also called Wall Drills.
  • Ward \ n. \ penalty called on a ball carrier while holding the stick with one hand, using or moving the other hand or arm to move, block or interfere with a defenders stick. A stationary arm in place can be held in position and block anything in it’s path (see Paul Gait video clip) but the moment it changes it’s position relative to the body while in contact with the opponent a Ward will be called.
  • Weak \ adj \ a defender or offensive player who makes zero effort during a play that usually results in a turnover due to their inaction.
  • Wormburner \ n. \ a shot that starts low and ends low, sneaking under the keeper’s stick as he anticipates a bounce that never happens.
  • Yard Sale \ n. \ slang for when a ball carrier has the ball and stick completely knocked out of their hands by a check. 2: when a player hangs his butt end out and a defensemen cracks the stick right out of his hands without him even suspecting the check was coming.
  • Zebra \ n. \ slang for referee.

While this is not an exhaustive list it should give anyone new to the game a working knowledge of the lingo. Again for a complete list of lacrosse terms please visit the E-Lacrosse Laxicon. My favorite one of the list is the Frying Pan, although we used to call someone who could not cradle Stone Hands.

Featured Image Credit – www.todddowell.com